Intelligent Mail Barcodes

This is a new feature from the Post Office that was originally slated as a requirement starting May 2009.  So many mailshops and software vendors freaked out that the USPS has decided to delay that requirement for one more year.  The program is alive and well, however, just not yet required.

We have been using and developing systems around the Intelligent Mail barcode since January 2008 and have had extensive experience in Planet codes before that.

Have you seen our new US Mail Tracking tools?

We are ready for this and have actually lead the way.  Is your mailshop using this technology?  How many other things are coming that your current mailshop is going to wait for, before learning on your project?  Why do they put your mailings at risk as they “figure it out” near deadlines? It’s because most shops are reactive instead of proactive.

You deserve to be kept at the front of the direct mail revolution, not in the backseat.  These new systems create dynamic advantages for the people that partner with us. What if your competition is using these advanced services and you are not?  Mailing with CSG Direct ensures that you are staying at the front of the pack. 

This is another core reason to work with a company that is a mailshop first, printer second.  It just makes sense!

US Mail Tracking – aka Bulk Mail Tracking

Haven’t you always wished you could see inside the mail system and figure out where your mailpieces were?

Here’s where we hit the rocket boosters!

CSG Direct, Inc has America’s first public direct mail tracking system in the countryWHAT? you say.

This is a dream decades in the making and just another example of why we should be on your team. Isn’t this the kind of tool you need or deserve to do your job right?

This is a revolution! But it’s ready for you right now.

Our proprietary process converts USPS tracking gobbledeygook into very easily searchable reports using your very familiar customer account numbers. A revolution!

It’s called and is only available here at CSG Direct, Inc. (24/7 of course).

You’ve really got to see this in action to see the dream come to life.

Mailing Services Have to Change with New Postage Rates

As most everyone knows, the postal rates for First Class postage rates are increasing on May 11, 2009 to 44 cents. Whenever a rate change is announced that the general public sees, a lot of rates and classifications are also changed for the business mailers (mail houses). One of the significant changes being proposed is the size and handling of self mailers and letter-size booklets. Some of the proposed changes include:

Larger Tabs: The post office is seeking to require two 1″ tabs on self-mailers and three 1 ½” tabs on booklets (2″ on larger and heavier booklets). The placement of tabs will also be a part of the proposed rule change, with more tabs required.

Smaller Size Limitations: The postal service has determined that folded self-mailers and booklets do not process as efficiently as envelopes, and seek to require smaller dimensional tolerances. The proposed rule will limit the size of self mailers and booklets to 6″ x 10 ½” x 0.25″.

Perforated Tabs: Perforated tabs will be eliminated under the proposed rule changes.

Paper Stock: The paper stock that self-mailers and booklets are printed on will likely be amended, and the paper requirements will be based on the piece size.

These changes are intended to assist the postal service in processing mail more efficiently. Unfortunately, it places the burden on the direct mailer and businesses preparing the mailing. The post office will be able to run more efficiently, but everyone else will be slowed down due to increased processing and higher supply costs. Many current mailpiece designs that are set up as templates will need to be revisited as well. As I stated before, the increase in postage is merely a single facet of the changes for the businesses whose livelihood is put to the test with each regulatory change.

This is an important time to partner with an experienced Mailing Services company, such as CSG Direct. We can help guide you through these tumultuous changes. With our staff of United States Postal Service MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) trained specialists, you can be certain that your project is in capable and caring hands. As marketing budgets grow tighter, customer response and cost-saving methodology are more important than ever. It is critical to market… but even more critical to market wisely. CSG Direct is a leader in direct marketing because we offer experience, value and cutting-edge innovation coupled with individuals who are passionate about our customer’s success.
The difference isn’t just noticeable…. it’s obvious!

Please feel free to share your comments.

Guest blogger Dave Carsten is the general manager of CSG Direct, Inc.

First-Class Postage Rates Increase Hides the Real Story

We just completed the update on our postage rates short sheet that we share with our clients and prospects alike. It’s a quick glance sheet of the most common rates achieved with all of our mailing services clients. You can find the new postage rates on our homepage.

During my last 20 years in direct mail I have studied the interesting dynamics of the varying rate adjustments made by the US Postal Service each year.  You can tell a lot about the troubles or changes needed at the Post Office by finding the nuances in the rate adjustments.

For years the US Postal Service had been spreading the rates out to create benefits for automation processing.  It was a huge trend for about a decade.  I am noticing that this is no longer the big push over the last few rate cases.

Looking at the First-Class Mail postage rates this year I see that the First-Class stamp went up 5% to 44 cents.  The First-Class non-automation rate went up as well – from .394 to .414, which is also a 5% increase. Compared to the automation rates for First-Class Mail which only went up 3% it would look like the same automation rate spread was continuing.

In standard postage rates (formerly 3rd class), on the other hand, we see a different trend. Standard non-automation rates practically stayed the same while the automation postage rates went up 4-5%.

This area of the postage rates system is the US Postal Service’s bread and butter. Standard postage is the most common rate paid on every piece of direct mail sent. We have spent years creating innovative ways to help clients elminate First-Class postage costs by moving them to standard postage rates with creative add-ons like NCOA and Track Direct Mail services.

To me, this says a lot about the US Postal Service trying to make money at the risk of scaring off automation investment. The biggest value of a mailing services provider is that they can get you automation rates. Many of us have invested millions of dollars in equipment to do so.  The Post Office continues to put more of the burden of equipment and requirements on the direct mailers. They appear to be seeking ways to prosper under the huge burdens in labor and government intervention they contend with.

In nonprofit postage rates we see this same trend continue. In this case though, non-automation postage rates go down while automation goes up. That is complete irony to me.  I can see though that they may be trying to keep the business of the local churches and nonprofit groups that handle their own mailings.

Recent new requirements by the US Postal Service has made it tougher on the little nonprofits and small realtor groups.  It is completely backwards in my opinion to punish those that follow the program and provide automated mail and then reduce the rates for those that don’t get with the program. Nonprofit postage rates went up 4-6% in the automation category as opposed to down 1-3% for non-automation. This sure has reversed the trend I have watched over the last few decades.

The biggest increases of all (18%) was in the surcharges the US Postal Service charges for non-machineable pieces. Keep this in mind and make sure you are working with a mailing services company like ourselves that is US Postal Service trained and certified.

We should talk about this more – feel free to comment.

Excel is NOT a Database Marketing Program

As a mathematical mind I would normally praise Microsoft’s signature product and how it has revolutionized so many industries. I myself use it on a daily basis and I have written several programs around it.  I feel right at home using it. But it’s not how I use it that has me concerned.

Excel has ruined more mailings than anything else in our industry!!!

Besides the fact that Microsoft registers this program as the default for almost every available type of file you have, Excel also figures it knows your database better than you.

Excel is NOT a database program! However, it has found its way into the database world and destroys projects daily across our country, and probably the world.
Exell sort option

First of all Excel does not hold record integrity. You are able to sort single columns and immediately scramble your database. It is common for a customer to sort the [Last name] field prior to giving us the data. They do this to see if they are in the database.  But then I end up getting a piece of mail saying Michael Smith instead of Michael Hemphill.

Secondly, it interprets your zip-codes as math. 95841-2205 = 93636 right?  wrong!
Excel is meant for Math, it is after all a spreadsheet program.

Don’t get burned by Excel by managing mailing lists with it. Consider yourself warned.

Recession? Are you part of the 80%?

A dear friend of mine dropped by and was telling me stories about the job market.
I guess not everyone can be as busy as we are.  That’s a different conversation, though.

Anyway, she shared some words of wisdom that someone had shared with her and, long story short, I thought I would share them with you.  I thought it was brilliant!

During the bleakest of times in the American economy, unemployment reached upwards to 20%. So if you imagine that we could approach that historic number again, just think…  you are in the top 80% of the workers left working, aren’t you?  That’s a huge percentage.

Make sure you are!  Be a project pusher, be a deadline beater, be a team leader, be flexible, be creative, work overtime, take less pay if you have to.  Now is not a time to sit down and wait for life to deal your cards.  Deal your own cards. Step up.

Then you have nothing to worry about.

When it is time to “trim the fat” businesses are always more likely to cut slackers and people that blend in to the furniture.  Aim to be the top 20% and you should always end up in the top 80%.

Thanks, Jess!

More Media Coverage of our Bulk Mail Direct Mail Tracking

Here is a new link to more of the media coverage surrounding our new direct mail tracking systems:

The true beauty of being able to hold direct mail more accountable is really sinking in with our new inventions!

I would like to remind everyone that this is just ONE thing that we have built that we are talking about today.  We have a large collection of tools and services we have built before this that no one else has either.

I know, this is a big one!

However, you may just very well be shocked by what we have coming next.
It’s a whopper too.

It takes time to roll out inventions in our industry, but believe me when I say our pipeline is full of them and they will continue to see daylight over the coming months and years.

So much Direct Mail Information to Cover

I really should have started this a year ago. So much has been happening that is HUGE.
I will cover as much of it as I can without sounding like I am talking about the past all of the time.  Here is a small list of stuff we’ve been powering through: